DiStory: Then and Now

Disability Stories from the Inside.

About the Project

Image of two women smiling, one has Down Syndrome

Who We Are

We are a group of self-advocates and educators working together to reclaim and teach others about intellectual disability history.

Some of us are from a younger generation, who did not live in institutions. Nonetheless, many of us still experience institutionalized and unwanted forms of care and support. We have first-hand knowledge and diverse perspectives of what it means to live in communities that may continue to discriminate against people with intellectual disabilities.

Our group also includes community advocates and researchers. These people help to organize the storytelling and activist work of survivors and younger generations with lived experience of intellectual disability.

Image of hand writing in a journal

Our Mission

The stories and experiences of intellectually disabled people are not always known or well understood. Even though many institutions are closed, past systems continue to shape the lives of people with intellectual disabilities today. The discrimination we face takes on new forms. We face inequalities in healthcare, housing, employment, and education among other important parts of society.

Our mission is to teach others about our history and its impact on our lives today. In doing this work, we are part of larger movements working toward change. We want to build a brighter future informed by the lessons learned from the past.

We do this work because people’s lives depend on it.

It’s time for society to listen to our stories and experiences. The survival of people with intellectual disabilities relies on a transformation of attitudes and systems. We believe that through teaching and learning, we can make change.

Image of many culturally diverse hands forming a circle

How We Work Together

We are committed to disability justice. For us, disability justice means:

  1. We must make sure that people with intellectual disabilities from all generations are actively involved in crafting intellectual disability history;
  2. Our stories deserve to be remembered, and to be included in our culture’s lessons about history; and,
  3. People with intellectual disabilities have a place in the future. It is important to carry forward knowledge about ourselves and our people as we live our lives.

Honouring disability justice means that we have a right to work together on our terms, in ways that are safe and comfortable for us. Our power comes from the collaborative way we are building different forms of knowledge about the past and the present as we look toward the future.

The Covid19 pandemic has created significant obstacles for collaborative work. We can no longer gather together as we had been doing. The inequalities we experience mean that many of us do not have access to computers, to the supports required to learn new technologies, or the ability to pay for internet fees. We have had to find different ways of collaborating that stay true to disability justice. This has taken a considerable amount of time. Our website will continue to grow as we adapt our work process to evolving health recommendations. For now, we are sharing two of our digital stories below.
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Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in our progress. To learn more about our work, please reach out to us at info@distory.ca

Check back soon, and take care.

Partners in Justice

Remember Every Name is led by survivors of the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia, Ontario. This initiative is committed to ensuring that people locally and nationally remember the history of eugenics and abuse that took place at the institution.

Visit the Website

An inclusive, multi-generational collaboration exploring past and present impacts of institutionalization and discrimination and the need for disability justice.

Visit the Website

Exclusiontobelonging.ca is the home of three projects created through collaboration between institutional survivors and siblings, allies, and supporters.

Visit the Website